Posts Tagged ‘Top of the Shelf’
Monday, September 24th, 2012
by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Candlewick)
Rhyme, a zippy rhythm, repetition, and onomatopoeia (Whirr! Churr! Crunch!), which ends each stanza in big print, make this book feel loud and brisk. Wonderful pictures of enormous machines are shown in action, and the text brings in a sense of danger, dust, and change. We also learn some of what happens with what not only gets destroyed, but recycled. The book ends with a playground being built, and a page of Machine Facts. The fast pace, variety of machines including trucks, wrecking balls on cranes, cement crushers, and excavators are sure to engage readers who love action and stories with noise.
Monday, September 17th, 2012
by Jane Buchanan, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb (Peachtree)
The book reads almost like a song, starting with Birdman’s joy in feeding pigeons. He sees a beauty those around him don’t, though the bold paintings make it clear to readers. Rose accepts the seeds Birdman usually scatters for birds, and sets them on a windowsill. After watching, waiting, and dreaming, she’s rewarded with a singing garden of birds. The short, simple, and beautiful text is a perfect match for the vivid colors, painted with wide, wonderful strokes.
Monday, September 10th, 2012
House Held Up by Trees
by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser is the author of this picture book that addresses the themes of change and nature. The story was inspired by seeing a house help up by trees, and this tale shows how that might have come to be. The book begins with a house that looks rather lonely on a newly planted lawn, but we soon see it from the woods as the house is inhabited by a family. Time moves swiftly in this book, so within a page turn, the children have grown up, and before too long the beloved house is abandoned. But not by nature. Beautiful illustrations show changes wrought by time and weather, and trees with layers of texture that suggest their power. Jon Klassen, who created droll animals for I Want My Hat Back, here uses some of the same brown tones and elegant textures to fit this story’s meditative tone.
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
UnBEElievables: honeybee poems and paintings
by Douglas Florian (Beach Lane Books)
This volume contains poems that often burst with humor, puns, alliteration, and rhyme. Each poem is accompanied by a nugget of scientific fact and faces a page of bees with attitude, sometimes wearing fancy hats or jewelry. Many poems feature different bees, including queens, workers, scouts, and drones. Other poems focus on life cycles, pollination, the recent disappearance of bees, and beekeepers. We learn a lot, and with pleasure in the inventive language and simple, funny paintings with lots of green and gold, which are sometimes amid collage and rubber stamp work. Further reading is suggested at the end, along with a BEEbliography.
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Baby Bear Sees Blue
by Ashley Wolff (Beach Lane Books)
The story follows a day through the happy-to-be-together Mama and child in an animated world: the sun speaks through a warm light, oak leaves wave. Baby Bear finds blue birds, red strawberries, orange butterflies, and who could choose a favorite color among these so beautifully done on linoleum block prints, hand colored with vivid watercolors? A thunderstorm makes them hurry home, then marvel at a rainbow. The cozy book begins with us peering into a dark, mysterious den, and ends with the “deep, soft black” Baby Bear sees when he closes his eyes, and a view of the night sky looking out from the den.
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Step Gently Out
by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder (Candlewick)
“Step gently out,” is the first line of the book, and we see the elegant legs of a praying mantis maneuvering his way across daisies. The colors and fuzz of a caterpillar, photographed close up, stun as we’re asked to watch a single blade of grass. Ant, honeybee, cricket, moth, and spider are shown larger than life, photographed as gently, it seems, as the stepping: background is put into soft focus, which gives a sense of an observer willing to just watch. The short single poem carries us into dusk, then another morning. An afterword with more photographs tells us more about the small, amazing creatures.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Water Sings Blue
poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books)
The first poem invites us to leave land’s stillness and “the heavy brown pier” for water and sky that sing blue. More poems echo the themes of imagination, freedom, and change that the sea calls out. We get humor with poems about seagulls, urchins, and octopus ink, a sense of time in “Sand’s Story” and “Tideline,” and drama in “Shipwreck.” Different moods are deftly conveyed through a variety of poetic techniques. Beautiful watercolors are the perfect medium for the changing blues and grays of the ocean, and Meilo So uses a great palette for the colors of many varieties of fish, coral, and seashells.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
It’s been quite the year! I’ve compiled a list of the books reviewed by our Shop Talk bloggers to create an easy glance at all of the picture books we thought were Top of the Shelf material in 2011. Click the link after each title to read our review.
Fiction Picture Books AGES 2-4:
1. LITTLE WHITE RABBIT by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books) Review here and here.
2. STARS by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books) Review here and here.
3. TEN LITTLE CATERPILLARS by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert (Beach Lane Books) Review here.
4. PRESS HERE by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books) Review here.
5. RED SLED by Lita Judge (Atheneum) Review here.
6. THE UMBRELLA by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert (Lemniscaat) Review here and here.
7. TELL ME THE DAY BACKWARDS by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail (Candlewick Press) Review here.
8. RED WAGON by Renata Liwska (Philomel) Review here.
9. RRRALPH by Lois Ehlert (Beach Lane Books) Review here.
10. THE LOUD BOOK by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Review here.
11. BLUE CHICKEN by Deborah Freedman (Viking) Review here.
12. TWEAK TWEAK by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Clarion Books) Review here.
Fiction Picture Books AGES 4-6:
13. GRANDPA GREEN by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press) Review here.
14. MOUSE & LION by Rand Burkert, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert (Michael di Capua Books) Review here and here.
15. OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books) Review here.
16. STREGA NONA’S GIFT by Tomie dePaola (Nancy Paulsen Books) Review here.
17. OH, HARRY! by Maxine Kumin, illustrated by Barry Moser (Roaring Brook Press) Review here.
18. HIS SHOES WERE FAR TOO TIGHT by Edward Lear, Masterminded by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Calef Brown (Chronicle Books) Review here.
19. PERFECT SQUARE by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books) Review here.
20. ME…JANE by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown) Review here.
21. ANTS IN YOUR PANTS, WORMS IN YOUR PLANTS! (Gilbert Goes Green) by Diane deGroat (HarperCollins) Review here.
22. THE SECRET RIVER by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) Review here.
23. HOMER THE LIBRARY CAT by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf (Candlewick) Review here.
24. NEVILLE by Norton Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Schwartz & Wade) Review here.
25. I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press) Review here.
Nonfiction Picture Books AGES 4-8
26. HEART AND SOUL: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (HarperCollins) Review here.
27. BEFORE THERE WAS MOZART: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Schwartz & Wade) Review here.
28. MEADOWLANDS: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Review here.
29. CELEBRITREES: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (Henry Holt & Co.) Review here.
30. QUEEN OF THE FALLS by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Review here.
31. HATCH! by Roxie Munro (Marshall Cavendish) Review here.
32. NIGHT FLIGHT: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic by Robert Burleigh, paintings by Wendell Minor (Simon & Schuster) Review here.
Books for Older Readers
33. AROUND THE WORLD by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press) Review here.
34. THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin) Review here.
35. ROBERT MCCLOSKEY: A PRIVATE LIFE IN WORDS AND PICTURES by Jane McCloskey (Seapoint Books) Reveiw here.
What a list! There’s still so many more 2011 titles that we loved and didn’t get a chance to talk about. Was there a new book from 2011 that you wished we reviewed? Let us know and maybe we can squeeze in one or two more before our 2012 reviews start. Here’s to another great book-filled year!
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills (Schwartz and Wad Books/Random House)
Rocket is an ordinary dog who loves naps, sticks, and smelling the neighborhood, and sees no need for books. As the title suggests, the suspense of this charming book is gentle. Rocket learns to read the way many children do, over a course of time we see pass with the seasons. First he’s enticed by a story with an ending he longs to know: will a dog find his favorite bone? His bird friend and enthusiastic teacher guides him through sounding out letters, but must migrate before “The grass became crunchy. Soon Rocket’s classroom disappeared under the snow.” Rocket is by then fascinated, and practices letters by dashing around leaving tracks in the snow. He latches onto small words he likes, sounds out letters, repeats, and finds patterns. We get not only a reassuring story about reading, but one of friendship and seasons, and of course, a very cute spotted dog and yellow bird.
Purchase a copy of How Rocket Learned to Read or read more Top of the Shelf book recommendations.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering (Candlewick Press)
Here’s the story of a man happy with his life of prayer and work, often tending the garden or fixing the plumbing, and a little rat terrier who likes his work of shadowing the monk and chasing down rodents. The language throughout is lyrical, but we stay with the dog’s point of view, and Snook’s not going far from the pleasurably smelly world. There’s danger, including a shark cameo, and action that skirts philosophy: it’s not a book for the very young and restless, but somewhat older readers, though the expressive pictures of dog joy will captivate most. We get a happy ending and subtle messages about different kinds of silence, faith, and waiting. Illustrator Timothy Basil Ering’s colors are stunning, and his pencil exquisitely captures the struggles, pleasures, moods, and energy of dog, wind, and sea.
Purchase a copy of Snook Alone or read more Top of the Shelf book recommendations.